Red, White, and True
Even non-Texans know that chili enjoys near-mythic status in the Lone Star State. What they may not know is that biscuits are mighty important too. Two new cookbooks have the last word on these staples. In Strictly Chili A. D. Livingston lauds the classic Texas bowl of red as the mother of modern chili. James Villas's Biscuit Bliss explores every permutation of biscuits, from raised to rolled; we think a brilliant suggestion is to smother a batch of jalapeño buttermilk biscuits in Texas chili. There's a marriage made in heaven.
VENISON CHILI FOR LBJ
President Lyndon Baines Johnson liked to eat chili when he was at his Texas ranch. Made with beef, this same recipe is often called Pedernales River Chili.
4 pounds venison, coarsely ground * 1 large onion, chopped * 2 cloves garlic, minced * 1 1/2 cups canned tomatoes, chopped * 6 teaspoons chili powder, or to taste * 1 teaspoon ground oregano * 1 teaspoon cumin seeds * 1/8 teaspoon hot red-pepper sauce * salt to taste
Brown the ground meat in a stovetop Dutch oven, add onion and garlic, and cook for a few minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and 2 cups of hot water. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover tightly, and simmer—do not boil—for at least 1 hour.
Adapted from Strictly Chili, by A. D. Livingston. Reprinted with permission from Burford Books.
JALAPEÑO BUTTERMILK BISCUITS
2 cups all-purpose flour * 1 tablespoon baking powder * 1/2 teaspoon baking soda * 1 teaspoon salt * 1/4 cup chilled lard, cut into pieces * 2 seeded jalapeño chiles, minced * 1 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the lard and rub it in with your fingertips till the mixture is mealy. Add the jalapeños and buttermilk and stir till just blended but still sticky. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead 8 times. Pat out the dough 1/2-inch thick and cut out rounds with a 3-inch cutter. Arrange them on a sheet about 1 inch apart and bake till golden, about 15 minutes.
Adapted from Biscuit Bliss, by James Villas. Reprinted with permission from the Harvard Common Press.